Comedy, callouts and conversation: A look into Claremont Twitter


collection of tweets
(Natalie Bauer • The Student Life)

Picture this: It’s March Madness 2020, but instead of a tournament to determine the best college basketball team in the nation, Twitter users vote on the funniest 5C students. Isabella Cayetano PO ’23 is in the lead, endorsed by none other than famous comedian, Jaboukie.

While they ended up losing in the elite eight of the bracket, Cayetano has since continued to serve up the witty comedy and hard-hitting satire that they –– and the whole Claremont Twitter community –– have come to be known for, entrenching themself as a key contributor to Clitter (an affectionate nickname for Claremont Twitter). 

The buzzworthy bracket may have been Claremont Twitter’s first taste of fame, but since then the 5C community has continued to grow in relevance. 

Uma Nagarajan-Swenson SC ’22 is no stranger to Clitter’s virality. On March 17, the frequent Twitter user aired her frustrations to her sizable following to speak out against Asian fetishization involved in the media coverage of the Atlanta spa shootings. Her tweet, spread first by 5Cers, is now at over 60,000 likes and counting, but Nagarajan-Swenson never predicted just how far Claremont Twitter was capable of reaching. 

“I went to bed and it had 7,000 likes, by the time I woke up, it had over 30,000. It was like watching a car crash on a highway,” Nagarajan-Swenson said. “It very much escaped outside of the Claremont Twitter community, but I was just pissed and venting to my friends, which is not entirely out of character for me.”

Nagarajan-Swenson’s tweet, though viral, showcased a critical feature of Claremont Twitter to users outside of the community: Clitter is not limited to comedy; rather, the culture thrives on its ability to be versatile. Clitter is an amalgamation of commentary from 5C students, with topics ranging from 5C-specific satire and subtweets to social justice and mutual aid. 

Lily Hibbard SC ’22 would know — after posting the original Tweet that exposed racist, sexist and transphobic TikToks made by Pomona-Pitzer football player Skylar Noble PZ ’22, the platform proved effective at aiding social activism and opening up a conversation about accountability among students and faculty at the 5Cs. 

Hibbard didn’t anticipate her tweet catching the attention of many students outside of the social media platform, but she didn’t necessarily need it to; 5C Twitter always makes her feel supported on its own.

“I wouldn’t have posted on Instagram about my experiences. I wouldn’t have put that on any other social media platform, but I felt comfortable sharing that with Twitter,” Hibbard said. “I trust the people that I follow. I trust that community.”

Since the first virtual semester, the number of users on Claremont Twitter has taken off, and many students credit the social media platform with keeping the 5C community together during the pandemic. Some users have even jokingly tweeted about having Clitter-only parties when they return to campus. The online community has become so close-knit that Cayetano considers their Clitter account to be like a personal diary, albeit one with an audience filled with hundreds of 5C students.

“I’ve gone through a solid amount in the last year and a lot of times Clitter has been a way for me to cope,” Cayetano said. “With everything that I and other students have been going through during the pandemic, especially when it comes to identity, mental health and just healing in general, it’s really easy to think you’re alone. To open Twitter and see that other people you go to school with have gone through or are going through similar things or similar emotions and can relate is comforting.”

Courtney Reed CM ’22 celebrated the diverse user base Clitter has accumulated during the virtual school year. 

“A lot of the people that I associate with on Claremont Twitter are BIPOC, non-cisgender or aren’t white. It’s a very marginalized community in that way,” Reed said. “If you are not actively doing your part to maintain or to push the leftist, idealized agenda, you’re not gonna fit in.”

Nagarajan-Swenson voiced appreciation for Clitter’s insularity — especially politically — because it provides a safe platform to voices within the community that feel silenced in other circumstances.

“A lot of the opinions that we are airing on Twitter are the ones that aren’t heard when you actually go back to Claremont,” Nagarajan-Swenson said. “On campus, the administration and the really rich, racist students are the ones who are getting away with a lot of things that they shouldn’t. It’s nice to have this one little space where we can just speak our mind in a way that won’t be filtered or monitored by admin.”

Although the culture of Clitter encourages social activism and freedom of speech at the 5Cs, some students including Cayetano have admitted that it is not entirely immune to the toxicity that anonymous, online environments can create.

“You have equal power on Twitter, which is both a good and a bad thing. It becomes a bad thing when people put themselves on a pedestal. I’m guilty of it, too […] I think that’s the danger of any online community. People forget that we are all going to have to interact with each other again on campus soon.” – Isabella Cayetano  PO ’23

“You have equal power on Twitter, which is both a good and a bad thing,” they said. “It becomes a bad thing when people put themselves on a pedestal. I’m guilty of it, too […] I think that’s the danger of any online community. People forget that we are all going to have to interact with each other again on campus soon.”

Nagarajan-Swenson, however, said many users don’t find an issue with the snarkier style of Clitter’s criticisms. 

“There definitely is a group mentality on Twitter, but I don’t think that’s a negative,” Nagarajan-Swenson said. “There’s a very clear culture of what people say, how people act and people’s political and cultural leanings on Claremont Twitter, but the people who are comfortable with that will be comfortable with our virtual setting and the people who aren’t, well, they just won’t be.”

Similarly, Reed advocated for her fellow 5C users, saying that many use Clitter to share their experiences in an informal way, which shouldn’t be held against them.

“At the end of the day, these are students’ personal Twitter accounts to air any and all grievances. I think it’s necessary for us to find community right now, especially when we’re in the middle of a global pandemic,” Reed said.

Most users looked forward to what is coming next for their community as it grows in size. Hibbard was especially excited to open Claremont Twitter’s virtual doors to current and incoming first-years looking to connect with upperclassmen. 

“We’re never gatekeeping Clitter,” Hibbard said. “I’ve seen a lot of class of ’24 and ’25 coming on and finding Claremont Twitter and I think that’s really sweet. It’s a community that people can find right now because we are all still remote.”

Eileen Kim PO ’24 praised the platform for being such an inviting community for first-years. Despite her more modest account, she feels that she still has a voice at the 5Cs. 

“I didn’t know that Twitter was a platform where you could meet so many people. But Twitter literally recommends everyone you could know from the 5Cs, and it was a new experience for me,” Kim said. “It’s very lowkey and supportive. I feel like my feelings can always be validated. Like if I’m having a rough day or making a sarcastic comment about some class or some teacher, there will be people in my comments that have lived through it and can support me on Clitter.”

Caelan Reeves CM ’24, one of TSL’s pop culture columnists, has even found success making friends and gaining a following in their first year through Clitter, after following students from their classes. 

“It’s definitely a lot more organic than meeting people in class because people are more themselves. It’s definitely been easier to get to know people in that context than any Zoom format,” Reeves said. “On Twitter, there’s a combination of people making funny, relatable jokes about our common experiences, but a lot of it is just people sharing the things that they’re actually interested in and that’s what makes it so cool.”

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